(Application no. 7883/07)
23 June 2009
This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Figas v. Poland,
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Nicolas Bratza, President,
David Thór Björgvinsson,
Mihai Poalelungi, judges,
and Fatoş Aracı, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 2 June 2009,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
In all their detention decisions the authorities repeatedly relied on a strong suspicion that the applicant had committed the offences in question, which was supported by evidence from witnesses. They attached importance to the serious nature of those offences and the likelihood of a severe sentence of imprisonment being imposed on the applicant. They further considered that the need to secure the proper conduct of the proceedings justified holding him in custody and that the applicant, if released, could disrupt the trial.
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE
A. Preventive measures, including pre-trial detention
B. Measures designed to reduce the length of pre-trial detention
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 5 § 3 OF THE CONVENTION
“Everyone arrested or detained in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 (c) of this Article shall be ... entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial. Release may be conditioned by guarantees to appear for trial.”
The Government observed that by the time the applicant had filed his application with the Court, the Constitutional Court had already given the first of the aforementioned judgments concerning Article 263 §§ 3 and 4 of the Code, finding these provisions partly unconstitutional. They concluded that the applicant might therefore have been required to exhaust the remedy in question.
In the Government's opinion, if the constitutional complaint had proved successful and Article 263 of the Code of Criminal Procedure had been considered unconstitutional in some part, opportunities for the applicant to obtain redress at the domestic level would have arisen, namely (1) the unconstitutional provision would not have been applied in respect of the applicant; (2) a judgment of the Constitutional Court finding the provision in question incompatible with the Constitution would have been a basis for reopening proceedings, or for quashing the decision or other settlement in a manner and based on principles specified in the provision applicable to the given proceedings; (3) the possibility of seeking compensation and just satisfaction for the undoubtedly unjustified pre-trial detention (under Article 552 § 4 of the Code of Criminal Procedure) would have become available to the applicant and (4) the applicant could have sought compensation for damage resulting from decisions based on an unconstitutional provision, in accordance with Article 417¹ § 2, second sentence, of the Civil Code.
The Court does not find it necessary to determine whether the remedy invoked by the Government could be considered effective in the circumstances of the present case. Having regard to the applicant's lawyer's refusal to lodge a constitutional complaint and an appeal against the judgment dismissing the claim for just satisfaction, the Court is satisfied that the applicant did everything that could possibly be expected of him to exhaust the national channels of redress. It follows that the Government's plea of inadmissibility on the ground of non-exhaustion of domestic remedies must be dismissed.
1. Period to be taken into consideration
As from that date he was detained “after conviction by a competent court”, within the meaning of Article 5 § 1 (a) and, consequently, that period of his detention falls outside the scope of Article 5 § 3 (see Kudła v. Poland [GC], no. 30210/96, § 104, ECHR 2000 XI).
On 7 July 2005 the Katowice Court of Appeal quashed the applicant's conviction. Following that date his detention was again covered by Article 5 § 3. It continued until 27 October 2006 when the applicant was again convicted.
Accordingly, the period to be taken into consideration amounts to two years, eight months and nine days.
2. The parties' submissions
(a) The applicant
(b) The Government
3. The Court's assessment
(a) General principles
(b) Application of the above principles in the present case
There has accordingly been a violation of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention.
II. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 46 OF THE CONVENTION
“1. The High Contracting Parties undertake to abide by the final judgment of the Court in any case to which they are parties.
2. The final judgment of the Court shall be transmitted to the Committee of Ministers, which shall supervise its execution.”
A. The parties' submissions
1. The applicant
2. The Government
B. The Court's assessment
III. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
B. Costs and expenses
C. Default interest
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, EUR 1,000 (one thousand euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage plus any tax that may be chargeable, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amount at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
Done in English, and notified in writing on 23 June 2009, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Fatoş Aracı Nicolas Bratza
Deputy Registrar President